Filed under: Autumn, Fall, Fashion, Fripperies, Modern Nostalgic, Modern Victorian
Ever since their latest brochure arrived, I’ve been obsessing over Wrap’s Autumn collection. Every time I turn the page, I find a new item to lust after – they really have outdone themselves!
Their silk empire-line dress strikes just the right note of grown-up whimsicality. I would have one of each colour and wear them with my omnipresent biker boots (or, I suppose, Victorian button boots to go with our theme).
The above dress also caused palpitations in my dear friend Melanie (writer of the Madame Guillotine blog and brilliant historical novelist to boot). I mean, honestly – a silk velvet dress styled with fingerless gloves and boots for instant [what we like to call] ‘Victorian prostitute chic’. What’s not to like? Both colours are gorgeous, but smoky grey shall forever win my heart.
Love everything about this outfit. Although I actually (again) prefer the smoky grey option, the mix of colours is winning me over, here. I really like the sprinkling of sequins on this jacket – particularly as they’re matte, so not too ritzy-glitzy to team with jeans, should you wish. And I would.
The dress worn under the jacket is this one… and I want every single option. Again. Yes, I’m greedy; but if forced at gunpoint to choose (an unlikely situation), I would plump for the aubergine. One of my favourites from the whole collection – I feel this would work especially well on those of us blessed with opulent bosoms and chunky arms…
Another combination I covet all examples of – silk, merino, stud and frills: a marriage made in my personal heaven. The cardigan manages to be both cosy and sexy (a rare pairing) and the top (shown below) is the perfect length and reminds me of my grunge days. In a good way.
These have to be my highlights from Wrap’s Autumn collection, but it’s simply bursting with wearable pieces with something special about them. Go and feast your eyes (and sign up for email alerts – their sales are amazing, too!)
Filed under: Accessories, Autumn, Brooches, Etsy, Fall, Fashion, Fripperies, Trinkets
Lately, I find myself hankering after items I used to scoff at and – on occasion – loathe with a passion. Could it be, Gentle Reader, that I am (at the age of 30 cough cough) growing up?
Dear LORD, I do hope not, otherwise I’ll freak out and have a terribly embarrassing encounter with experimental hair dye and inappropriate skirt lengths. Again.
It is more likely (and palatable to your author) that I am finally getting around to embracing things that other people have been already been wearing and loving for decades.
Hence: brooches. I do not own a brooch. My jewellery box[es] are bereft of anything even resembling a brooch, and I feel this must soon be rectified.
I am looking at over-familiar jackets and seeing a well-placed brooch would dress them up no end. I am seeing whimsical brooch-shaped gaps on far-too-respectable cardigans and bags. Even skirts could benefit…
Direct links to items shown, left-to-right:
And by the way, just how adorable is the little mouse brooch in the first row? He looks like he’s done something terribly wrong and only just realised – or forgotten something vital from his shopping list. Two situations I am equally familiar with!
What a relief to be back having been without a power cable for my PowerBook for an absolute age. Well, a few days, but it seemed like forever! *grumbles about Mac power cables for some time*
Until next time, dearhearts
Filed under: Accessories, Autumn, Etsy, Fall, Fashion, Shoes, Shopping, Vintage
There was a time when any self-respecting young gal about town knew she must leave off any hint of sparkle & glam until the cocktail hour approached. Anyone gadding about in sequins & spangles before the sun went down was to be viewed with a raised eyebrow: most likely a dirty stop-out who had woken still-drunk in a ditch, dressed in the previous night’s attire.
Nowadays, it is quite acceptable for even the most virtuous of ladies to be seen at any hour of the day in beads and bobby-dazzlers, though some people feel quite faint – still – at the very glint of a sequin. This is just silly – the trick is to dress down the sparkle with items that just scream I Don’t Really Care: jeans, obviously, but toughen it all up with leather cuffs, vintage boots or other bold accessories.
Direct links to items shown, left-to-right:
This is an excellent idea of how to re-use that sequined blazer you’re wearing to the Christmas do, or that vintage, ‘Jackie O’ style beaded cardi you haven’t worn yet for fear of looking too twee.
Oversized mannish watches and your oldest, most-loved Converse (or your preferred brand of Leisure Shoe!) also work really well and can dress down just about any embellished item of clothing when paired with your old jeans, some leggings and a short skirt or thrown over That Comfy Favourite Jersey Dress That Goes With Everything.
I have about 10 such dresses, all in black, which sort of defeats the purpose. Doesn’t stop me wanting the one above as well…
Let’s face it, dear hearts: I am never going to have a capsule wardrobe. I can never be one of those people who can say – with a completely straight face – “Just add a scarf, twist up your hair and you can go straight from a 14-hour day at work to the Metropolitan Ball!” The people who tell you these things are liars, darlings. ;p But I suppose one should also accrue comfortable day/casual dresses in other colors, too…
As for makeup, well either a ‘natural’, ‘no makeup makeup’ look (which, as we know, takes far longer in reality to achieve than slapping a bit of slap on) or a metric tonne of eyeliner would work equally well.
I’d always plump for the metric tonne of eyeliner, but that’s just me.
I don’t believe I have left the house without eyeliner since I was about 13! The very thought horrifies me.
Until later, my chuckie-eggs,
Filed under: Art, Autumn, Books, Cosy, Etsy, Fairytales, Fall, Hounds of the Morrigan, Knitting Pattern, Literature, Pat O'Shea
Hounds of the Morrigan, by the now sadly departed Pat O’Shea, was 10 years in the writing. It can be classed as a children’s book, but I have been reading it on and off since I was 11 years old, and it still remains one of my favourite books in the whole world. Such imagination, dark humour & a great cast of characters – I just had to honour it with a blog post and – of course – a selection of goodies inspired by fond memories of the novel itself…
Direct links to items shown, left to right:
The story is the age old battle of Good v Evil, in the same rich vein as Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence; but it’s really the cast of characters and the adventures they have together that always brings me back to the world Pat O’Shea created.
I always, always wished for another book from her, a continuation of the story, the chance to meet old friends. There is a tantalising glimpse of what might have been in her obituary, printed in The Guardian newspaper:
The few brilliant chapters of the unfinished sequel are almost worth publishing alone: a Christmas card scene, candelit shop windows, carol singers and a robin… and into this cheerful scene rides the great Irish witch the Morrigan with her wild sisters, bringing mayhem and magic and mischief.
*sigh* How selfish it is of us voracious readers to wish someone alive again merely so they could finish/begin a sequel. It’s all a bit Kathy Bates in Misery for words, but I do sort of understand that constant, gnawing wish for more.
Of course unfinished sequels always hold a power that a published book can never have (much as we mourn the loss of new songs from our favourite recording artists who died too young, or the films we’ll never see of actors who went before their time).
It’s an aching void always begging to be filled with new material from rambunctious upstarts or delving into the classics to see from whence your favourite sprang… but you have to get over it each time the craving begins, or that dreadful self-pitying kind of mourning for what might have been starts to spread, like little spores of black mould in a damp bathroom.
Relish the tangible, that’s the cure!
With this in mind, I feel I must very soon curl up in a cosy nook…
…wearing something scrumptiously soft & a good pair of thick bed socks…
…heaped with blankets and cushions, drinking hot chocolate [possibly with a slug of something wicked in it] and reading The Hounds of the Morrigan for the umpteenth time!
Oh, and don’t get me started on Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – another of my all-time favourites which I hold to my bosom and treasure like a rare jewel. And OH MY GOD – HOW did I not know that she’s written a [proper] sequel?! Ordered it immediately, of course. I may return to this to wax lyrical at length…
Ah, Howl, my first literary crush.
Whatever your favourite cosy read is, I hope you have time to snuggle up with it, soon. I truly believe it’s balm for the soul, and most especially at this time of year, don’t you think?
Do share with me your favourite cosy reads – or the books you keep coming back to throughout the years – I’d be fascinated to know!
We are – in the UK, anyway – in the very heart of that golden period. That time between being really quite pleased to be donning coats and snuggling in scarves, and the moment we are all bored of it and begin moaning at how terribly cold it is “…and we never had a proper summer to speak of.”
Well, I say we should make the most of this golden period of Autumn. I find wrapping up in cosy knits and swathing myself in long scarves to be positively delightful, and I wont have a word said against it! So there.
Direct links to items shown, left-to-right:
I see that Emma Sommerfield’s 40′s style hand-knitted cardigan has already sold, but she does re-do certain styles from time to time, I believe. Worth asking if you desire that particular style as much as I do! She’s on holiday at the moment, but as with all Etsy sellers, you can request to be sent an automatic email when the seller returns to their shop.
I must also mention Le Muse and show you some more of the beautiful designs available in their shop. I just adore this label – the sheer simplicity yet subtle sexiness of the clothes is incredibly appealing.
Oh, how I want one of everything, and to cavort about in the grass with a pitcher of milk, as pictured below.
Um. Perhaps with another layer on underneath the dress on frostier days? Showing my age! People under 30 seem to eschew layers or, y’know, a coat nowadays. Obviously made of hardier stuff than I, your fragile author…
I am very much in favour of the re-emergence of The Shoulder, here. I am fond of my shoulders and they got many outings in the 80′s, but have pretty much remained hidden since then. There is something cheekily sexy about a shoulder peeking out, non?
Of course this also means the re-emergence of the strapless bra, in my case. Lucky those of you who may do without, rejoice, for the strapless bra is a tale of woe worthy of several chapters.
Here are some that didn’t quite fit into my layout, but which I also love, and these seem to also exude that air of bliss that only comes with being slightly cold, wrapping up warm and drinking cocoa by the fire after a kick through the leaves.
Yours blissfully & toasting my tootsies (that’s ‘toes’ for anyone not familiar with the expression, who may have been imagining all sorts of licentious behaviour!)
Filed under: Accessories, Autumn, Boots, Etsy, Fall, Fashion, Fripperies, Necklaces, Trinkets
Every morning is a battle in my wardrobe: what the HELL to wear when – in my little spot in the Garden of England – the Autumn weather currently goes something like this: Misty raining raining raining SUNNY HOT stormy raining WARM blustery COLD misty drizzle mizzle WINDY cold warm raining raining… and all within a single day!
I actually love that kind of jumbled-up weather (good job, living in the UK!) but it can make dressing appropriately a little tricky. The answer is, just as your mother told you, to layer. You can still wear a floaty summer dress, but team it with leggings or thick tights underneath, perhaps even a VEST. Yes, your mother was right about that, too. Or a long sleeved t-shirt for those that wouldn’t countenance the merest vestige of a vest.
Pair up a pretty Liberty print number with a boxy velvet jacket or, to toughen up the whole ensemble and for one of my favourite looks ever: ditzy florals with a leather jacket (even an oversized or man’s jacket) and biker boots. It says effortlessly sexy at just about any age, I think (given the correct proportions) and if it gets a little steamy, take the jacket off. Pile on the mis-matched scarves & floral accessories, too, to cheer up a dull day!
Direct Links to Items Shown, Left to Right…
Liberty prints are forever the queen of florals and have been going strong since the actual Mister Liberty – Arthur, to his pals – began creating the iconic patterned fabrics in London’s Regent Street in 1875. Each season, new fabric designs are produced for the Liberty collection, the designers “…drawing inspiration from art, architecture, lifestyle, personal experiences and the extensive Liberty archive.”
By the way, forgive a gal the whimsy, but I just had to use these cutely aloof dolls/soft toys as the faces of this ‘look book’ selection. I am not generally a fan of dolls and gave up my soft toys some time ago, but these ones have such character I want to adopt them all!
Liesel is a portable little snoot, 7.5 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide.
Her head is crocheted from a blend of wool and mohair and the front of her frock is a Liberty of London, cotton lawn.
She has two button eyes, accented with tiny embroidered eyebrows and a wool beret atop her head.
Liesel is finished with a wool felt backing, a heartfelt sentiment and a bit of Midori ribbon around her neck.
(Due to the small bits, Liesel is not recommended for young children).
This little lady is looking for a good friend. She loves to tend her flowers. She likes to swing really high on the swings. And most of all she likes to make a fort with chairs and blankets. Her little green pea coat is fully removable, fastens with a snap, and keeps her warm while crunching through leaves.
This doll is made with new and recycled fabrics. She is 19 inches tall and she has orange felt hair, green eyes and black painted shoes. She has a cute green dress with purple and orange flowers, and purple tights. She is safe and appropriate for all ages. Her beautiful face is hand painted with a pensive and kind expression. She is one of a kind and bound to be a devoted friend.
Instead of playing with the other squirrels in the giant oak tree, Bon Bon spends most of her time baking acorn pies and doing crossword puzzles.
Measures approx 9 inches high.
This item is made to order especially for you! Please allow 3-5 days for completion and shipping.
Bon Bon is made from clean recycled tweed wool (wool colors may vary, but they are always brownish/gray), fleece, safety eyes and stuffed with new poly fil.
Of course we shall be wearing our blackberry lip stains or our bright, pillar-box screaming red lipsticks with this look – along with a metric ton of eyeliner, pearls, layered chains (masses of them) or statement bib-style necklaces. Comfort with a raw edge. Wonderful.
By the way – if you are utterly allergic to any hint of floral patterns – as I was for many years, bearing the scars of a 1970′s flower-patterned childhood – you can still get the look by wearing one of these far more subtle Liberty bracelets or necklaces, as shown above, by Mavis and Frank. I can think of lots of people who wouldn’t necessarily wear a floral dress but would love these accessories…
Yours flowered-up biker-chickishly,
Filed under: Accessories, Autumn, BBC, Costume Dramas, Emma, Etsy, Fall, Fashion, Fripperies, Jane Austen, Regency, Trinkets
I have just been watching the new BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and pronounce it to be [horribly quoting from the wrong book, but never mind] “Tolerable“. Well that’s a little unkind, it doesn’t have anything bad about it, really, but neither is it particularly electrifying. Everyone is doing their turn and doing it well enough – it’s perfect Autumnal Sunday evening viewing, so we can’t complain. Eye-candy abounds in home decor, winsome peaches & cream complexions and well-fitting breeches scattered liberally about the scenery.
Watch a preview clip:
In my mind, Jane Austen adaptations are forever entwined with cameos in my mind. I have no idea why. Well, actually that’s a lie. When I was a little girl, I had a collected edition of Austen’s novels that had a large picture of a cameo on the front cover. Therefore, Austen = Cameo and Cameo = Austen in my easily-befuddled head. So there.
Cameos have a truly fascinating history as fashionable pieces of wearable art – I have always been attracted to their strikingly simple beauty yet decadently intricate appeal. My mother introduced them to me – we would spend hours looking in antique shop windows, gazing longingly at the images and wondering who they depicted and who wore them…
The following snippets of information are from Anna M. Miller’s book, Cameos Old & New – a brilliant resource for those wishing to further their knowledge on this subject.
- Early Greek and Roman carvings featured images of gods and goddesses, themes from mythology, beautiful women and biblical events.
- Many cameos through history depict living heroes or rulers.
- In the Hellenistic era young women used cameos as charms to express desire. A woman could wear a cameo depicting a dancing Eros as a seductive invitation to love.
- During the Renaissance, Pope Paul II was an avid cameo collector. According to history, this love ultimately led to his death. His excessive display of carved gems and stones on his fingers kept his hands so cold that he caught the chill that meant his death.
- Cameos have been used on helmets and military accessories like breastplates and sword handles, on rings and other jewelry, and on vases, cups and dishes.
- Women began collecting cameos to prove cultural status during the Elizabethan period. At the same time, tourist travels to the ruins of Pompeii were on the rise and women began collecting shell and lava cameos as souvenirs to remember their travel.
- During the 18th century, men purchased carved gems to mark their prestige and culture.
- Cameos enchanted Napoléon, who wore a cameo to his own wedding and founded a school in Paris to teach the art of cameo carving to young apprentices.
- Not until the nineteenth century, when the popularity of shell cameos grew — reducing the use of hardstones or agate — did profiles become as popular a subject matter as they are today.
If you click on the above picture of the utterly jaw-dropping French Baroque cameo, you’ll be taken to a page where you may read more about the history of how cameos are made. Or you can order the cameo and buy me a house with the money left in your wallet. Alternatively – and perhaps a little more affordable for the rest of us – you may choose to peruse my cameo-inspired choices from various lovely Etsy sellers…
Direct links to items shown:
In case you have been living in a cupboard, Louise Black is currently starring in the current series of Project Runway. She has long been one of my favourite Etsy designers and I lust after one of these corsets (though to be perfectly honest, my corset wearing days are likely over. Let’s face it. I’m likely to get more use of one of her gorgeous cuffs. But OH look at the corset… *le-sigh*
I do think the cameo dress in my above selection is a very wearable piece, though. For those of us less blessed in the leg department, one may choose to team it with leggings (even I have succumbed to leggings this season!) or extremely opaque tights and either cute ballet flats or knee-boots.
Another effortless wearable (and affordable!) piece that I didn’t have room for in my initial selection but still wanted to share with you, is this delightful Marie Antoinette Cameo Shirt by Thirty Three Degrees:
Finally, I just have to include this dinky little cat cameo cushion by Kerry Kate – I know I want one in my house!
Well, I think I have probably prattled on long enough for today, my dearies, so until next time…
Violet, damson, blackberry, plum – the leading colour trends for Autumn even sound delicious. Vogue list violet and its regal, purple companions as one of the hottest looks for the coming season.
Being one of my favourite colour palettes, this is wonderful news to me. I love mixing berry colours with the inevitable greys that always pop up at this time of year, along with teal, peacock green, inky indigo, smokey mauve & steely blue. And black, obviously. It’s best to break up the purple, anyway, unless you secretly desire being mistaken for a Ribena Berry!
Blackberry or dark berry colours are also my go-to choice for lipsticks at this time of year. I cannot, absolutely CANNOT do a “nude lip”. I have purchased every nude lipstick known to man (or, um, woman) but they all make me look as though a priest should be summoned. I don’t know if this is due to my colouring, or more to do with the fact that I have quite large lips, so can take a darker, more defined colour very well. Nevertheless, I will always be drawn to berry-stained looking lip colours. The following are on my Most Wanted list…
Here are my plum picks from Etsy’s selection of violet hues – it’s a current Etsy Treasury, too…
Direct links to items shown:
I am lusting after ALL the above. Seriously gorgeous designs and in my decadent colours of choice. Fabulous. Obviously you will be clicking on the links to explore the shops further, but meanwhile I must show you some of the intricate details missed in the smaller pictures in my selection…
“This coat is inspired by a retro 70s trench coat. It is fitted at the waist with a full skirt giving an hourglass silhouette. This is a fall weight coat but can be worn into the colder weather. The shell is made from 100% organic cotton and lined with kasha (fleece backed satin for extra warmth). The coat features a hand screened doily print and vintage buttons. This design has a wide circular cut skirt and 2 pockets.”
Available Colours: purple, chocolate brown, moss green
All colours have black print and black buttons.
The clutch comes with a beautiful fabric bag for a better care of the clutch.
Outer Material: Canvas
Lining: Soft synthetic silk.
Frame: Antique Brass
Measures: Width is 8 inches, bottom of clutch 8.5 inches and height 5 inches aprox.”
“This dress is made with cotton lycra, the top is lined in lycra silk and I added bones in the front, sides and back. Button and buckle are vintage. The color is darker than the image.” - This dress is available for a complete custom fit – just ask the seller!
All this talk of berries makes my mouth water. I start yearning for warm, hearty dishes and scrumptious home-baked goodies filled with the delicious wages of a day spent blackberry picking…
Try this recipe from BBC Good Food:
Blackberry & Apple Crumble Cake
- 175g unsalted butter
- 150g golden caster sugar , plus 1tbsp
- 4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 200g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 150g crème fraîche
- 150g blackberries
- 3-4 tbsp clear honey or maple syrup
- crème fraîche or double cream, to serve.
For the Crumble Topping:
- 50g unsalted butter
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 75g plain flour
- 50g blanched hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 20cm springform tin with baking parchment.
- To make the crumble topping, melt the butter, then mix in the soft brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and chopped hazelnuts. Heat 25g of butter in a large frying pan. Add 1 tbsp caster sugar and the apple wedges. Cook for about 10 minutes until the apples are tender and golden. Cool.
- Beat together the remaining butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the eggs. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the flour and baking powder. Add the crème fraîche and mix until smooth.
- Spoon roughly two-thirds of the cake mixture into the tin, spread level and scatter over one-third of the crumble. Top with the remaining cake mixture and level again. Scatter on another third of the crumble and arrange the apple wedges and blackberries on top. Finally top with the remaining crumble.
- Bake for about 11/2 hours. Loosely cover the top of the cake with a sheet of baking parchment or foil halfway through the cooking time if it is browning too quickly.
- Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes and then transfer to a serving plate. Warm the honey or maple syrup in a pan and drizzle over the cake. Serve warm with a bowl of crème fraîche or lightly whipped double cream.
Or how about this recipe from the wonderful Nature’s Secret Larder? – RIGHT up our street!
“It’s that time of year when the hedgerows are often glistening with small blue/purple fruits, not the sloe, but the wild plum Prunus domestica. I won’t get into the what type of plum is it, as this is a mine field, for they may all look similar or due to country tradition they will be given different names in different locations. For this recipe I have used the Damson, but you can try it with other types of plum.
- 1lb of wild plums. Damsons are best, but try whatever you find!
- 5 ozs of white sugar (if you like it sweet then add a little more, and try once a month and add to taste)
- Bottle of gin
- Sterilised Kilner Jar
- Wash the plums well and discard any bad or bruised fruit. Always check soft fruit for any holes, as this is sometimes a sign they are bad or have a rogue maggot excavating them!
- Prick fruit with a fork, or bung them in the freezer and let them freeze, this should break the sugars down and split them.
- Add the sugar and top up with gin covering all of the plums.
- Shake every day (for about a week) until the sugar is dissolved and then place in a dark cupboard for at least three months, or if you can wait, then a year or so is also good.
- After several months some people will strain out the fruit and then bottle the gin. This can be good practice as occasionally the fruit will turn and alter the flavor of the gin. Some even eat the fruits as Christmas sweeties!”
I may have mentioned it several times previously, but oh I LOVE this time of year!
There’s something about the misty mornings, sunlight that looks to be filtered through amber glass, smokey bonfire smells, conkers laying scattered like shiny treasure amidst piles of crunchy leaves and the rich, warm honey hues everywhere. Sitting in the park at lunchtime, warm enough to not wear your coat but with a slight nip in the air to remind you of colder days to come. Utter bliss.
As we are currently in the midst (well, start of the midst) of planning our wedding, we are looking to everywhere seeking inspiration. Although we are planning for late Spring, there is no denying the appeal of an Autumn wedding. I have gathered together a wonderful selection of inspirational nuptial-themed items that I think really capture the magical saffron-sunlit atmosphere of this time of year – I do hope you love them as much as I do!
Direct links to items shown:
I had this selection in mind as an Etsy Treasury [themed selection of items chosen & curated by members of Etsy], but missed my slot due to wallowing in a bubble bath. Ah well, sometimes the better things is life are worth taking time over. I shall try again in approximately, um *checks the Craftopolis Treasury Clock* 15 hours 3 minutes time. Hmph.
Until next time, dearies…
I am gradually working my way through Blog Lovin’ and adding all manner of delicious blogs to read. My days need yet more hours in them to read them all, but I’m discovering so many beautifully written blogs with just jaw-droppingly gorgeous photos that it quite puts me to shame!
What blog-readers do you use? Which blog do you adore & think I might, too? (You’re not allowed to nominate your own – that’s just cheating. I want to know what interests you!)
Today at work me and a friend decided to eat lunch at the little cafe in the park near our workplace. It was a blazing hot day (well, for the UK at this time of year, anyway!) and yet we witnessed a film crew turn it into Christmas. They are currently filming the Morrisons Christmas advert there…
Huge amounts of white sheets were laid over the grass, then massive amounts of fake snow pumped into the air (quite a lot of which wafted back and ended in our salads!) A Victorian style fairground had been set up, along with an ice-rink, and it was all quite magical – I actually feel all Christmassy now, which goes to show how easily one can be manipulated by winsome surroundings.
Here’s a photo of the evening filming…
Aww, I wanna go to the Victorian fairground, wrapped up warm with rosy cheeks, eating a toffee apple. *stamps feet*